How to Keep an Indoor Lemon Tree Watered While on Vacation

At the end of this week I’ll be leaving my home in New Mexico to visit family in Ohio for an extended holiday. Naturally, keeping my potted lemon tree thriving while I’m away is a top priority. At the same time, I don’t feel particularly comfortable burdening a neighbor or friend with the task of coming by to water it. Thankfully, there is a simple solution! I’d like to share with you how I keep my lemon watered while I’m away on vacation.

Whether you’re taking a short weekend work trip or a two-week vacation getaway, you may be concerned about how your lemon tree will stay hydrated in your absence.  Believe it or not, there is a less obtrusive and more autonomous solution than bothering a friend to come by and water it. Using watering globes is a great way to keep your potted lemon tree watered while you are away for up to two weeks.

Read on to find out more about watering globes and how to use them to water your potted lemon tree while you are away on vacation.

What is a watering globe?

A watering globe is a glass or plastic vessel that is shaped like a globe, with a long, tubular stem that is designed to slowly release water into the soil of a potted plant. They are often used by home gardeners who are leaving their house plants for an extended amount of time to ensure their plants do not get too dry in their absence. Watering globes can also be helpful to extend the time between tending to your plants if you frequently forget to water your plants, or if your plants are in hard to reach locations.

Watering globes work by the scientific laws of gravity and diffusion.As the soil gets drier, aided by gravity, it slowly draws water from the watering globe. The water then diffuses throughout the soil from an area of higher concentration (the mouth of the stem) to areas of lower concentration (the rest of the soil). It is in this way that water from the globe reaches the thirsty roots of your lemon tree, without you having to be there to water it.

How to use a watering globe:

Using a watering globe is easy. Simply fill the globe with water and then, with finger over the opening of the stem, quickly flip the globe upside down and insert the stem into the soil of your potted lemon tree.  If the soil is compacted, you may need to break up the soil a bit with the handle of a wooden spoon before inserting the globe in order to prevent clogging of the globe’s stem.

If you are leaving for vacation, you will want to water the tree before inserting the globe. If the soil is dry, the water in the globe will move immediately into the dry soil. If the plant has recently been watered, the water in the globe will not drain until the soil begins to dry out, which means your plant will be self-sufficient for longer.

Which watering globes should I buy?

Any watering globe is likely sufficient, however you may want to pay attention to the size of the globe. The smaller the globe, the less water that is available to the plant. For a lemon tree, I recommend a watering globe with a diameter of at least 4 inches. If your tree is more mature, consider using more than one large watering globe while you’re away.

Watering globes come in plastic and glass. Plastic globes are usually cheaper and won’t break if you drop them. Glass globes have a tasteful and decorative aesthetic that can add a visually pleasing element to your potted lemon tree, however they are more fragile. Choose whichever is more conducive to your lifestyle or tastes, as the material should not affect its ability to water your lemon tree.

Here’s an Amazon link to the glass globes that I use when I leave my lemon tree. They are beautiful, inexpensive, hold a decent amount of water with a globe diameter of 5 inches, and work great!

If I use a watering globe, how long can I leave my lemon tree for?

Depending on the size of your plant, the dryness and temperature of its environment, size of the watering globe, and whether you plan to use one or multiple watering globes, your lemon tree can potentially be left for up to two weeks.

Reasons to consider using multiple watering globes per plant:

  • If you are leaving for longer than a week, you may want to consider using two watering globes per lemon tree, placed on opposite sides of the pot. This gives your tree twice the amount of water to live off of while you are away.
  • If your tree is more mature and in a 10-gallon or larger container, you will also want to consider using 2 or 3 large watering globes, as it will need more water to survive than a younger, smaller plant.
  • If you live in an arid climate and don’t use humidifiers in your home, you will also want to consider using more than one watering globe. The low level of moisture in the air will cause the soil to dry out faster compared to that of a more humid environment.

A great way to be sure if your lemon tree will be getting enough water in your absence is to start experimenting with watering globes well in advance of your departure. I.e. if you are leaving for 8 days, try using a watering globe for 8 days about a month ahead of your vacation. If the lemon tree does fine and the water stays adequately moist, you will have peace of mind. If you find that the soil dries out too quickly within that time period, you have time to adjust and perhaps try how your tree does with an additional watering globe.

Is there anything else I should do for my lemon tree before leaving for vacation?

  • Make sure to leave your lemon tree positioned to get plenty of light in your absence. A sunny, south facing window is ideal. While it’s natural to want to close your curtains or blinds while you are away on vacation, make sure to keep the ones near your lemon tree open so that it can get the unobstructed light that it needs.
  •  If it is winter and you live in a cold region, you will likely want to turn down the heat while you are away. While this is ok, be sure to leave your thermostat at a minimum temperature of 50 degrees so your lemon tree won’t suffer shock.
  • If it is winter and you have concrete or stone floors without radiant heat, get your lemon tree up off the ground. A concrete or stone floor can be a conduit for the cold from the ground and exterior, and could potentially be too cold for your lemon tree’s roots. Place your lemon tree on a table, pedestal, or at the very least a thick rug.